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Silicosis in West Country Granite Workers
  1. L. W. Hale,
  2. G. Sheers
  1. West Cornwall Hospitals Group and the Mass Radiography Service of the South Western Regional Hospital Board


    The granite industry in Cornwall and Devon is briefly described, especially the production of dust in dressing the stone.

    In 1951, 210 granite masons were examined (about 84% of the total at that time) and 37 (17·6%) showed silicosis. These men were followed up for 10 years. No silicosis was seen in men with less than 15 years' exposure, but after this time the risk increased to 11 out of 14 in those with over 35 years' exposure. Nine deaths occurred, two of which were due to silicosis. Radiological progression was observed in 13 of the 28 survivors. It was not necessarily associated with additional exposure but was related to age. More young men progressed.

    In 1961, 132 of the granite masons (about 93% of the total at that time) were re-examined and nine new cases of silicosis were found to have developed during the 10-year interval. The exposure in the 1961 cases was comparable with that of similar cases in 1951. Thus the risk has not been much reduced over this period.

    Pulmonary tuberculosis occurred in eight of the 37 cases of silicosis in 1951, and between 1951 and 1961 a further five cases were diagnosed, four being from one locality. This was by far the most frequent and disabling complication. Only one case of progressive massive fibrosis was seen.

    More extensive use of protective antituberculous chemotherapy is advocated, and also better dust control.

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